Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes his co-captain Mitchell Pearce is ready for a New South Wales reprieve for Game One on Wednesday week, following the Tricolours' 24-10 win over the Bulldogs on Friday.
Overlooked for Origin I after being suspended for a week and fined $20,000 for off-field misbehaviour just over a year ago, Pearce failed to make a return to the Blues picture at all in 2014 with Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds doing something the 26-year-old has failed to do in 12 Origins: win a series for NSW.
Yet now with the Bulldogs playmakers out of form and a more matured approach to Pearce's football becoming increasingly obvious, Robinson said his halfback is ready to earn back his stripes in Laurie Daley's squad.
"'Pearcey' is very different now [since the last time he played Origin]. He's won a premiership. He was our Player of the Year in 2014 and has become captain this season," Robinson said after his side's 14-point win.
"The simple way I'd put it is that he's always been a good kid for a long time and now he's a great guy. That's the difference – he's grown up a lot in that time.
"Pearcy has said all along that he's going to put his hand up. He's talked about the incumbents, and if that's the way they want to go then that's alright, but I think we can all see a bit of a difference in Mitchell Pearce and he'll be ready to go if called upon."
It remains to be seen whether he'll be selected in the Blues side, but Pearce said after his two try-assist performance against the Bulldogs no matter which way anyone chooses to look at it he is content with his form.
"[Whether I'm picked or not] I know what works for me to play my best now, I just have to stick to that week-in, week-out," Pearce said.
"That's how you play better I suppose. I feel like I have been playing alright so I guess we'll have to wait and see [if I'm picked] though I'm feeling really confident at the moment."
With speculation that Pearce will partner Hodkinson in the halves to take on Queensland on May 27, Robinson added that Daley and the NSW selectors should consider the form of Pearce's five-eighth partner James Maloney too.
After arguably missing out on selection last season due to Pearce's poor behaviour, considering he made his Origin debut the year prior, Maloney has been in good form according to his coach.
"I think 'Jimmy' has had a really good month. I think James has been playing some really good football under pressure, he almost finished the game for us in Melbourne, he had a great City v Country game and I think he's ready [as well]," Robinson said.
"New South Wales will have a good footy player there with Jimmy or with Pearcey - whether they are separated or together. If either one of them gets in, or both, they'll be ready to play. They're experienced enough."